My English class has recently started reading A Separate Peace. Apparently some people find it fantastic; Audrey Menen called it “the best-written, best-designed and mmost moving novel I have rea din many years.” However, Audrey Menen and I disagree. I find A Separate Peace okay. Not awful. Okay. I adore Finny, but Gene annoys the heck out of me. The plot wasn’t very exciting and very predictable. I knew Finny was going to die in the first chapter. The writing was actually not bad- Knowles actually had a knack for relating those feelings we all have that can’t be sorted into neat little boxes. But not thrilling, not the art of the novel. And the ending was mind-numblingly anticlimatic. And just straight up stupid. Probably the worst ending ever. I’m done with it now, and the overwhelming feeling I left that book with is that Gene and Finny are so gay for each other. SO gay. I will now provide textual evidence. Pretty sure I ship Ginny now.
For such an extraordinary athlete—even as a Lower Middler Phineas had been the best athlete in the school—he was not spectacularly built. He was my height—five feet eight and a half inches (I had been claiming five feet nine inches before he became my roommate, but he had said in public with that simple, shocking self-acceptance of his, “No, you’re the same height I am, five-eight and a half. We’re on the short side”). He weighed a hundred and fifty pounds, a galling ten pounds more than I did, which flowed from his legs to torso around shoulders to arms and full strong neck in an uninterrupted, unemphatic unity of strength.-page 8
Okay, this one could go either way. Maybe he’s just trying to describe Finny. Maybe It’s a little gay that he describes Finny like Adonis.
“Come on,” drawled Finny from below. “Stop standing there showing off.”-page 9
Gene is smaller than Finny; he tells us so. So why would he be showing off? Finny is admiring the view.
“All right, pal,” Finny spoke in his cordial, penetrating voice, that reverberant instrument in this chest. -page 9
“What I like best about this tree,” he said in that voice of his, the equivalent in sound of a hypnotist’s eyes…-page 6
Okay, this is another that could go both ways. Gene focuses on Finny’s voice an awful lot, and he always praises it. Always. It’s very questionable. And then…there’s the wrestling passage. And that settles the question FOREVER.
“We’d better hurry or we’ll be late for dinner,” I said, breaking into what Finny called my “West Point stride.” Phineas didn’t really dislike West Point in particular or authority in general, but just considered authority the necessary evil against which happiness was achieved by reaction, the backboard which returned all the insults he threw at it. My “West Point stride” was intolerable; his right foot flashed into the middle of my fast walk and I went pitching forward into the grass. “Get those hundred and fifty pounds off me!” I shouted, because he was sitting on my back. Finny got up, patted my head genially, and moved on across the field, not deigning to glance around for my counterattack, but relying on his extrasensory ears, his ability to feel in the air someone coming on him from behind. As I sprang at him he side-stepped easily, but I just managed to kick him as I shot past. He caught my leg and there was a brief wrestling match on the turf which he won. “Better hurry,” he said, “or they’ll put you in the guardhouse.” We were walking again, faster; Bobby and Leper and Chet were urging us from ahead for God’s sake to hurry up, and then Finny trapped me again in his strongest trap, that is, I suddenly became his collaborator. As we walked rapidly along I abruptly resented the bell and my West Point stride and hurrying and conforming. Finny was right. And there was only one way to show him this. I threw my hip against his, catching him by surprise, and he was instantly down, definitely pleased. This was why he liked me so much. When I jumped on top of him, my knees on his chest, he couldn’t ask for anything better. We struggled in some equality for a while, and then when we were sure we were too late for dinner, we broke off.-page 11
I have no words. Just…just read it.
After Mr. Prud’homme left he began to dress, that is he began reaching for whatever clothes were nearest, some of them mine. Then he stopped to consider, and went over to the dresser. Out of one of the drawers he lifted a finely woven broadcloth shirt, carefully cut, and very pink.
“What’s that thing?”
“This is a tablecloth,” he said out of the side of his mouth.
“No, cut it out. What is it?”
“This,” he then answered with some pride, “is going to be my emblem. Ma sent it up last week. Did you ever see stuff like this, and a color like this? It doesn’t even button all the way down. You have to pull it over your head, like this.”
“Over your head? Pink! It makes you look like a fairy!”
“Does it?” He used this preoccupied tone when he was thinking of something more interesting than what you had said. But his mind always recorded what was said and played it back to him when there was time, so as he was buttoning the high collar in front of the mirror he said mildly, “I wonder what would happen if I looked like a fairy to everyone.”
“Well, in case suitors begin clamoring at the door, you can tell them I’m wearing this as an emblem.” He turned around to let me admire it. –pages 17 and 18
Okay. 1) This is 1942 and Finny is a teenage boy perfectly comfortable wearing a pink shirt. 2) He even mentions suitors. C’mon. 3)Finny’s so comfortable with himself and his sexuality he’s cool with mentioning suitors and looking like a fairy. 4) He lets Gene check him out in his pink shirt. OKAY.
Phineas had soaked and brushed his hair for the occasion. This gave his head a sleek look, which was contradicted by the surprised, honest expression which he wore on his face. His ears, I had never noticed before, were fairly small and set close to his head, and combined with his plastered hair they now gave his bold nose and cheekbones the sharp look of a prow.- page 19
Again, Gene notices Finny very deeply. How many of you have examined the size of your friends’ ears? Exactly.
Well, there you have it. Next week will be Chapters 3,4, and 5. Do you agree they’re gay yet?